We are very appreciative of all of the positive attention that we have been receiving since we announced Spaceboy Partners, our games publishing platform. My inbox has surprisingly been flooded with everything from concepts yet to be fully realized, to early prototypes, to finished products in need of marketing help. I love all of this, but I thought that I’d make a quick post that covers what we expect from you as publishers, how to make a deal, what to do, what not to do, and how we can get the most out of each other after we have created a partnership!
HIGH NOON REVOLVER, THE PRODUCT OF OUR FIRST PARTNERSHIP WITH MIKE STUDIOS
Your first step is simply to get our attention. If you want to work with Spaceboy Partners, or any publisher, we need to be aware of your team and your project. This can happen in one of two ways: the publisher approaches the team with interest, or the team makes a pitch to the publisher. Due to the fact that we are a small team that develops games of our own, we are not yet actively scouting for projects to fund, assist, and market. This means that we might never reach out to about your project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we aren’t interested! It just means that we are very busy! To make a pitch to Spaceboy Partners, you will need to organize and send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What I expect:
1) High concept and background information: Explain your game in one to two sentences. Give me the elevator pitch. Accompany this with some basic information like the genre, the scope and size of the project, your target platforms, and so on.
2) Playable prototype: Send us something to play! It doesn’t have to be the final art or an incredibly polished masterpiece, but we want to know how it plays. It should generally *feel* like the experience that you want our players to have. I will probably skip out on your email as soon as I notice that there is no attachment to go along with your text.
3) Release window and distribution strategy(ies): When do you plan on releasing your game? We don’t need an exact date, but we want to make sure that we can give your project the love and attention that it needs. We don’t want to have three projects launching simultaneously. The distribution strategy is simply whether or not it’s a game that we will release via Steam, or a mobile game that will need to go through Apple, etc.
4) Expectations of publishing party: What do you need from us? Do you need funding? How much? We can handle your PR, your marketing, etc. We want to know what we can help you with. It’s better to ask for more and get turned down than to low-ball things and then fail when you need more and we are unprepared. We can always come back to you with concerns and work with you to find an offer that works for both parties.
After A Deal Has Been Made
Congrats, you are making a video game with Spaceboy Partners! Now what? You will be assigned a contact email and you will discuss all of your questions, concerns, wants, and needs with that person. Having a solitary means of communication with our team will ensure that the whole team is on the same page and that we won’t make changes to our trajectories via Facebook with one person while another member of the team talks about tweaking something else via email. We want to keep things organized for everyone’s sake.
An initial deal will be made and we will create a contract for both teams to acknowledge and sign. From there the deal may change dependent on what you need, how the timeline or necessary assets may change over time, and so forth. The contract may only be edited if both parties agree on the new terms.
Essentially, our job is to make everything aside from the task of developing the game disappear. That is the high end of what we can offer (not accounting for funding/advance(s)). That covers PR, marketing, Steam Greenlight (or bypassing that system), managing the Steam storefront, managing your build repo, managing your payments, creating a press kit, performing a press release, organizing your Steam sale schedule, contacting different companies to arrange potential bundle options, etc.
Steam Early Access
I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about what Steam’s Early Access is and isn’t. For those of you who don’t know, Steam Early Access allows developers to sell their projects before they are complete. Customers can then interact with the developer via the Steam forums and potentially get involved with the development process and influence the final product. This obviously allows for some cool things, as well as for some shady business strategies. The latter is why I am mentioning it here.
Steam Early Access is NOT an excuse to not release a finished product. Steam Early Access is NOT a tool for corner-cutting when you fail to stick to your project timeline or underestimate your development budget. Often, when we are discussing the release window or the amount of funding that a team may need, the developer may suggest Early Access (EA) as an alternative. If your game does not fit into our lineup or we cannot afford to fund your game at the current point in your development cycle do NOT shoehorn your project into EA. EA should be for extremely large projects that can be community-driven, or games with extremely modular content that were built with EA in mind (Nuclear Throne is a good example of this).
EA is also fairly bad for your sales numbers (according to research, friends, and fellow developers). People have grown weary of the system and often don’t trust developers to ever deliver the final product. What is the incentive to finish if money keeps flowing in throughout development? Don’t abuse EA and ruin it for developers that would like to use it correctly (both mechanically and morally).
We are excited about Spaceboy Partners and have put hours into market research, development experience of our own, etc. We know how well INK did. We have tools like Steam Spy to approximate how our friends did. We have lots of feedback and advice from friends who have done this many times, as well. We have friends from within other publishing companies. All of that being said, do NOT trust a publisher who tries to promise you ‘x’ number of sales or ‘y’ dollars (or whatever currency applies) worth of revenue. It is impossible to make guarantees. All we can do is learn from the past and give you educated estimates. I promise you that we will work hard and that we will do our best to give you honest advice and honest numbers. Our goal, unlike most publishers, is to inform you. We don’t want you to have to come to us again (unless you just enjoy the hands-off approach). We want to teach you how to do what we do so that you can continue to excel in this industry alongside us.
Thank you, and feel free to email me if you have further inquiries,